What is it like working and studying in Germany? (Part 1)
My name is Denise Krämer and I’m working for the Student Services of the University of Brighton for four weeks. I’ve been asked to post a few articles about what it is like working in Germany, so I thought about what would be the best to start with. As a German student, spending an Internship at the Careers Service of the University of Brighton I found a lot of similarities and a lot of differences to my office back in Germany I would like to tell you about. To outline those I’ll show you during the next week a few impressions I had of the British culture and working as an ‘intern’ at the office in Germany.
First thing to know about me: yes, I am an intern in Germany, too. I have to pass three years of working and studying to gain my Bachelor Degree in ‘Career Guidance and Case Management’. Alternate semesters of studying and working plus not having breaks like the summer break here – it can be exhausting so you have to be made for it, I guess. As you know what it is like being a student, I’ll focus on what it is like working in ‘good old Germany’.
The question I have been frequently asked here is of course, where about I live. My answer is always the same: literally in the middle of nowhere. Probably people expect me to tell them I live in a famous city like Berlin, Frankfurt or Cologne; but I don’t. I live in Ediger-Eller, a small village in the South-West of Germany (left side of the picture above), with nearly 1100 inhabitants. It lays right at a river called Mosel (or Moselle), with loads and loads of beautiful vineyards around and thousands of tourists spending their holidays here every summer. Due to the huge tourism we have mainly seasonal work; winters can be very peaceful and quiet. There is no big University around, no big city and no big employer searching for motivated students. It’s just us and the vineyards, I guess. Everybody is somehow related to someone owning a winery. My grandparents used to have a winery, nowadays my grandma only has this lovely B&B. Fun fact: I have never ever bought wine in a supermarket, and I would never do that. Some strange thing even fellow students from those big cities find a little odd about me, too.
Now you probably know that it is unavoidable for me to know a lot about wine and how to make it. So why didn’t I choose to work as a winemaker?
In Germany not every pupil does the A-Levels (‘Abitur’ in German). Some just leave school after 9th or 10th grade, starting a three-years-apprenticeship where they gain a certificate showing that they are able to do their job properly. They are ready to work for the employer who hired them right after school. There’s no question about them not having enough practical training, because that’s what this apprenticeship is about: work experience.
If you don’t choose to leave school, you’ll do your A-Levels. And after finishing school at the age of 18 or 19 you’ll go to University, leaving home and in many cases not coming back – at least in my region. For a couple of years now there is an opportunity for students, to earn money and work experience during their studies plus having an employer who will offer them a job after their studies. It is called ‘Duales Studium’ (dual studies) and that is what I am doing. I don’t have to worry about finding a job after University because I do already have an employer who has in a way bound me by contract to work for him for at least two years after my Bachelor Degree. I’m telling you this because I know it can be challenging to find a job after University without work experience.
In my next article, I’ll show you how it is like working in Germany.
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